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Business briefs: EU pressuring Google to change its ways

From Wire Reports

BRUSSELS – European Union institutions are piling pressure on Google to change the way it operates its business and applies EU rules.

The European parliament on Thursday approved a nonbinding resolution that calls for the unbundling of search engines from other services Internet companies offer. EU antitrust authorities currently are investigating Google to see whether it is abusing its position following allegations it is biased in linking search results to its own services.

The resolution was approved 384-174 with 56 abstentions.

On Wednesday, an EU data protection group advised that “the right to be forgotten” rule that requires Google to delete upon request information that unfairly tarnishes an individual’s reputation should be expanded from addresses like .de and .fr to the general .com domains.

HSBC bank charged with aiding tax evasion

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina’s tax agency charged HSBC bank Thursday with helping more than 4,000 Argentines evade taxes by placing their money in secret Swiss accounts.

The head of the country’s AFIP tax agency, Ricardo Echegaray, said Argentine citizens evaded about $3 billion in taxes that were handled by intermediaries through a network of offshore accounts.

Echegaray alleged that some of those accounts in Geneva are owned by HSBC Argentina’s president and other bank executives.

AFIP said it got its information from France, where HSBC was placed under formal investigation last week for possibly aiding tax evasion. The banking company also has been charged in Belgium with organized fiscal fraud.

HSBC said it respects Argentine laws and has committed no wrongdoing.

“HSBC Argentina emphatically rejects its participation in any illegal association, including any organization that allows capital flight aimed at evading taxes,” its statement said.

MADRID – Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim will invest 500 million euros ($624 million) in Spanish construction firm FCC and receive a controlling stake in the company.

Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas SA said in a statement Slim’s stake will be 25.6 percent.

The company’s largest stakeholder, Spaniard Esther Koplowitz, will have her stake reduced from more than 50 percent to 22.4 percent.

Slim is making the investment through his Control Empresarial de Capitales.

He also is expected to invest 150 million euros to pay Koplowitz for rights to subscribe to the offer and buy new shares.

Nigerian parliament: Shell should pay fines

WARRI, Nigeria – A parliament committee in Nigeria says Shell should pay $3.6 billion in fines as punishment for a 2011 oil spill.

The committee’s decision, made Wednesday, is not binding. The spill occurred in 2011 off the Bonga oil field.

In 2011, the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency estimated that about 40,000 barrels were spilled when a tanker was loading crude at the offshore platform operated by Shell’s subsidiary SNEPCO, but SNEPCO attributed the spill to a “snapped loading hose under water.”

The United Nations Environment Program has repeatedly criticized Shell for not doing enough to clean up oil spills and maintain its infrastructure in Nigeria.

Shell Nigeria is half owned by the Nigerian state.

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